Unit 1: Intro to Design
Unit 2: Figma Fundamentals
Unit 3: The Creative Process
Unit 4: Color Theory
Unit 5: Introduction to Illustrator
Unit 6: Typography
Unit 7: Layout
Unit 8: Typesetting
Unit 9: User Interface Design
Unit 10: Design Systems
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Mobile First vs. Desktop First

When designing a website responsively, the order that we design matters. Should you design the desktop site first and then adapt it to mobile and tablet? Or is it better to do it the other way around?

If you design the desktop version first, your approach is “desktop-first”. If you design the mobile version first and adapt to desktop later, it is called “mobile-first”.

Which approach is better or does it really matter? In this lesson, we will take a look at a few factors which you may need to consider before deciding on a strategy.

First, let’s look at when it makes sense to adopt a desktop-first strategy.

When You Must Focus on Desktop-First Design

You Are Designing For Old-Fashioned Industries

If the industry you are designing for is considered old-fashioned, chances are you may need to work on a desktop-first approach. There is not an exhaustive list of industries we can provide here, but a good way to check if your client’s industry may fall into this category is to browse what their competitors have been doing with their design. Does it seem like a lot of them have excellent mobile websites? What about your client’s customers? Are they consuming contents related to your clients on mobile device or desktop? You can find out such information either directly from your client or by doing independent research yourself.

Your Target Audience is Older

Another situation where desktop-first might be preferred is when your target audience is elderly.

Reading from mobile device is often challenging for this audience demographic, which means desktop is likely more preferred. The elderly population is likely to have lower usage rates of mobile devices, which makes designing for desktop first an ideal choice.

You Are Designing Complex Enterprise Projects

Complex enterprise projects such as company dashboards and internal systems often require a desktop-first approach because of the sheer amount of information that needs to be included.

Another reason that enterprise projects are mostly desktop-based is because most users of these programs and sites access them from an office environment where they use desktop or laptop computers. While access from mobile is also important, the number of employees using the applications or sites while on-the-go isn’t likely to be higher than when they use them via desktop in the office.

When You Should Use Mobile-First Web Design

Data Supports It

One of the reasons to choose mobile-first web design is the data. Analytics help determines the performance of your website, user metrics, and what content is consumed. Not only this, but it can help provide insights into how the visitors use your website. Thanks to analytics, you can find out what technology the visitors are using for access.

For instance, if the data shows most of the traffic comes from desktop, approximately 80%, then it doesn’t make sense to focus on a mobile-first strategy. Desktop first may be more appropriate and vice versa.

Types Of Business

Another factor that will help you decide which web design you must select is the type of your business. If the company has a physical location, mobile traffic will increase. It means you will have to focus on a mobile-first strategy.

For instance, if you are designing for a restaurant or retail store, they might have more mobile users. However, this might not be the case with a travel agency targeting retirees.

Difference In Content

Finally, the type of content you are designing for can also influence the strategy.

The biggest problem when designing for mobile-first is the content. Mobile consists of less content than a desktop. If your site has a huge amount of content, it might not be the best idea to start with mobile because content layout will be more challenging. It would be easier to start with desktop and then adapt to mobile.

If the site is not content-heavy and there is no data to support that the majority of visitors come from mobile, it would be okay to go with either strategy.

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